On a recent trip back to her home country, Mayan Toledano, an Israeli-born and New York–based artist, photographed an intimate series of female Israeli soldiers. She was looking to redeem a small piece of her teenage girlhood during which she served as a soldier herself and was stripped of all cultural "feminine" symbols. Gender, race, and personal differences are to be set aside during the years of mandatory service in the Israeli military—the national identity is privileged over any form of individuality. Toledano remembers fearing that her uniform might somehow erase her evolving womanhood.
In Toledano's series, however, the young subjects fail, beautifully, to conform. Underneath the layers, they are softly glowing in their singularity, taking on creative positions as soldier journalists, teachers, and filmmakers, and carefully choosing the fit of their uniforms, shoes, white T-shirts, and small pieces of jewelry. As paradoxical as it may sound, Toledano's photos reveal that what seems like these girls' indifference is actually an expression of their autonomy. In a way, it's their girly, teenage boredom that reflects a passive, sleepy protest against violence.
In Toledano's photographs, they are very delicately illuminated in pink hues, as if viewed through a prism of a nearby sunrise or sunset.
All photographs by Mayan Toledano. You can follow her work here.